Initial unemployment claims slowed nationally and in Michigan but remain near record levels

By Michael Horrigan, Jim Robey, Katie Bolter and Gerrit Anderson

April 30, 2020

In the week ending April 25th, initial claims for unemployment insurance nationwide totaled 3,839,000. Over the past six weeks, 30.3 million workers in the United States have filed claims (see chart). This represents 19 percent of U.S. employment in February. Initial claims have skyrocketed since the week of March 15, reaching a peak of 6.9 million the following week and gradually falling each week thereafter.

Michigan last week processed 81,312 claims, down from 136,707 the week before.

This is the lowest level of weekly initial claim filings since the surge began six weeks ago. Over this period, Michigan has seen 1.3 million initial claims—26 percent of its total February employment and one of the highest shares of any state.

US state initial UI claims map

Every state has seen initial claims slow in recent weeks. Nonetheless, thirty states have total initial claims since March 15 that equal at least 15 percent of their employment. Of these states, 11 exceed 20 percent. Eight states have cumulative filings over 1 million: California (3.7 million), Pennsylvania (1.6 million), New York (1.6 million), Florida (1.6 million), Texas (1.6 million), Georgia (1.4 million), Michigan (1.3 million), and Ohio (1.1 million).

Michigan perspectiveIndustries

Nearly every Michigan industry has seen initial claim volume ease this past week. The cumulative toll, however, has been significant. In construction, for instance, fifty-three percent of workers have filed. The lifting of the ban on nonessential construction starting May 7th will bring some relief, even though the new normal will require extensive orientations on safety protocols, staggered shifts, and enforcement of social distancing requirements.

Other hard-hit industries include arts, entertainment, and recreation (46 percent of employees have filed); accommodation and food services (44 percent); and manufacturing (35 percent). Within manufacturing, six sub-industries have laid off more than 40 percent of their workers, including three related to autos: transportation equipment manufacturing (41 percent), fabricated metals (43 percent), and plastics and rubber products (43 percent).

Another six industries have lost between one-quarter and one-third of their employment: administrative and support services (31.3 percent), wholesale trade (30.2 percent), retail trade (28.1 percent), real estate and leasing (26.8 percent), and transportation and warehousing (25 percent).

As we have previously reported, health care is not immune, with 69,000 filings in the last six weeks from doctors' and dentists' offices, outpatient care centers, labs, and home health care, together representing 33 percent of employees in the ambulatory health care sector. Unlike other industries, hospitals have seen an increase in initial filings in recent weeks, with 13 percent of its employees laid off over the past six weeks.

Michigan perspectiveCounties

Every county in Michigan has had initial claims decline in recent weeks. In the most recent week, three counties in the Detroit urban area accounted for just under half of the state’s initial claims—Wayne (18,165), Oakland (11,366), and Macomb (9,153). Over the past six weeks, these counties have accounted for over 540,000 initial claim filings, which is in proportion to their share of employment in the state (42 percent).

In addition to their diverse industry base, these counties represent 37 percent of the state’s manufacturing employment. Manufacturing employment in each county is concentrated in auto-related industries, which have been hit particularly hard since the surge began.

The following maps show new unemployment insurance claims for the week ending April 25 by Michigan county and cumulative initial claims since March 15 as a percentage of February 2020 Michigan county employment. The final table details Michigan initial unemployment insurance claims by county.


MI inital claims count map by county
MI cumulative claims count map by county


Kathleen Bolter headshot

Kathleen Bolter

Project Manager, Policies for Place Initiative
Gerrit Anderson headshot

Gerrit Anderson

Regional Mapping and Data Visualization Specialist